Following a loss to Deron Winn at Golden Boy Promotions: Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 in November of 2018, it appeared that light-heavyweight Tom Lawlor’s MMA career may have been coming to an end, but that wasn’t the case. Though he has focused on professional wrestling the last couple years, Lawlor always intended to return to MMA, and appeared he would be doing so when he signed with the PFL this past March.
Though the novel coronavirus has pushed Lawlor’s fighting plans off, he’s still staying in the MMA spotlight, as part of this week’s PFL Prep Point digital series, of which he spoke to MMAWeekly.com about recently, as well as how his 2020 has shaped up compared to how it looked heading into it.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Tom, prior to the novel coronavirus lockdown, what made the start of 2020 the time to return to MMA following over a year away from the sport?
Tom Lawlor: To be honest it wasn’t the idea of “if.” My plan after my last fight was to come back and starting fighting, but unfortunately I broke my hand, and it was an injury that took months to heal. There was no surgery to be done, so it just took a long time.
After that the offers I got were good, but wasn’t really what I was looking for. I was doing professional wrestling, and I do pretty well with that. The injury risk for what I was being offered to fight wasn’t always worth it.
With the PFL it’s an opportunity that you can’t pass up. It is one of the premier fight organizations in the entire world. I’m towards the end of my career and I don’t want to waste my time with projects that are subpar, that won’t pay off in the long run. Clearly the juice is worth the squeeze with the PFL.
MMAWeekly.com: Shortly after the announcement that you had signed with the PFL, the world went into lockdown forced by the coronavirus. Since then what has the year been like for you and how you view your fight career?
Tom Lawlor: It’s kind of a whirlwind because of everything that happened almost immediately after I signed. I signed right before the Covid-19 pandemic kind of took hold of the nation and the world. I went from a week or two of being overly excited of fighting within a few months, and having that taken away. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for myself, as it has a lot of people.
Just for myself, personally, it’s another year which I have to prepare for a fight. Often preparing for a fight is one of the toughest things; it’s not the actual fight itself. Going from being excited to fight again, then realizing that you’re not going to do it for another year, but you can’t take time off, you’ve got to keep motivated, so it’s a battle.
MMAWeekly.com: When you do finally get to fight again, how will the version of yourself differ from the one we last saw in 2018?
Tom Lawlor: One thing I’ve tried to be smarter (about) is the recovery process. In the past I’ve beat myself up too much and ran myself into the ground. Now I’m not saying I don’t train excessively, but I’m doing a better job with the recovery process and relaxing and stuff like that. My goal is when I’m in the fight is for that day to be my best day of the year, day of the month, whatever it is.
MMAWeekly.com: Though you’re not fighting, you are keeping in the MMA eye with your appearance on the most recent episode of the PFL’s digital series, Prep Point. Tell us about appearing on the series and what it means to be featured on it.
Tom Lawlor: The PFL has a ton of interesting stories, a ton of interesting characters, and if you look at the past few months’ profile pieces, they’ve brought some of those stories to life without having to focus so much about the in-cage action. They’ve been able to keep the fighters in the forefront and get some content on them. It’s awesome what the PFL is doing.
For me, myself, one of my goals with doing professional wrestling and MMA, I think of them as one business, whether it’s in the ring or the cage. One of the things I try to do is keep my name out there. I’ve done a pretty good job of doing that so far.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us Tom. Is there anything you want to add in closing?
Tom Lawlor: Really, when it comes down to it at the end of the day, I’m in this to make as much money as I can. With the PFL that means becoming the champion. If there’s other things that come from that, great, but fighting’s my job, and my goal is to win this tournament next year.
‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor is ALL IN for 2021 PFL Light Heavyweight Championship | Prep Point
(Video courtesy of PFL MMA)